LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — It is no secret doctors and nurses have been facing extreme fatigue as we near two years into this pandemic.
8 News now brought you a story about longer wait times in emergency rooms Wednesday, and now we are seeing another issue, an unprecedented demand in telemedicine.
Doctors are seeing patients in emergency rooms that do not need to be there or patients utilizing telehealth medicine when they should be seeing a doctor in person.
The thought of communicating with your doctor from the comfort of your home sounds very enticing, but that convenience has led to doctors feeling what could be described as “zoom fatigue.”
“I’m swamped with patients all the time, people needing to get in for urgent matters and routine matters, it’s really a non-stop influx of patients,” said Dr. Alexandria Lightning, owner of Lightening Medical.
Dr. Lightning works 40 hours a week seeing in-person patients, then she adds on an additional 30 hours of telehealth appointments.
“They stay consistent with everyone booking an appointment every 20 minutes,” she said. “There is no room to stop.”
Dr. Lightning can see upward of 10 telehealth patients a night from across Nevada.
However, Dr. Lightning said most of her telehealth patients have conditions that warrant an in-person visit so she can examine them properly.
“We want to use all our senses and recourses to treat a person, and that is best fit with an in-person visit,” Dr. Lightning said.
Mental health professionals are also dealing with an overload in telehealth patients.
“In most cases, we are packed to the brim,” said Lakiesha Oliver, a clinician with Solutions of Change.
Oliver said the pandemic has caused a lot of mental health needs and most therapists are doing their best to accommodate patients.
“We also have to think about the mental well-being of our clinicians there are people that are overloaded,” Oliver said.
According to Dr. Lightning, there are solutions to the high demand for telemedicine. We can help take off some of the load on local emergency rooms and telehealth professionals if we are set up with a primary care physician, that way conditions don’t worsen and lead up to a visit to the emergency room.
Telehealth is best for simpler needs such as prescription refills. As for seeking mental health help, there could be a long waitlist, but Olivier said in the meantime, joining support groups could be your next best avenue.